As humans, we are strongly inclined to enjoy comfort and predictability. This is why it can be difficult to stick with a new habit or attempt something that might hurt you physically or emotionally.
But as an athlete, you are not privy to uncomfortably. Your life is predicated on your ability to push yourself both mentally and physically to points that others would not consider wise. And if you’ve spent any time in the gym, you know that getting stronger takes hard work. Moving weights around is anything but comfortable.
In terms of getting physically stronger and progressing your skills on the court, field, or rink – the process of how to improve in fairly simple. Put in the hours, push your body, rinse, and repeat.
Now, there are clearly and a number of different nuances that make up what that process looks like, but when you boil it down the basics, that’s all it is.
So let me ask you this…
How are you ensuring that you get the most opportunities possible to progress in your sport? Are you seizing every opportunity that is available to you?
I heard a quote the other day that really got me thinking about this:
“Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them. “
In sports, we often hear people complain when things don’t go their way. And one of the most common words thrown around is ‘opportunity’.
They say things like:
I didn’t get an opportunity to play last game.
She had more opportunities to screw up
And one for the older athletes…
I missed my opportunity a long time ago.
If you’ve ever heard someone say something along those lines and you’ve been able to objectively stand back and provide your unbiased opinion – you probably realized that this person was wrong.
You might say, “they had a ton of opportunities, but they just didn’t use them.”
And to a certain extent, you’d be right.
But what if it’s not that they didn’t use their opportunities, but instead they just didn’t recognize them? What if those opportunities were simply missed out on because they weren’t willing to put in the extra work? The hard work.
And you know what. Life isn’t always fair. Some people will get more opportunities than others. That’s just a fact. And sometimes facts can be convincing. But not that one.
Yes, some people do have more ‘easy opportunities’. But I think we all have an equal shot at the ‘hard opportunities’. You just have to be willing to put in the work.
And often it comes down to your ability to get uncomfortable. And not just in the traditional sense every athlete is used to. It’s not just about putting in the reps or doing the physical lifting.
No. This is about your ability to get access to more opportunities. This is about going out of your way to ask your coach for extra reps. This is about your tenacity to face the possibility of rejection, get rejected, and go for another attempt. This is about your willingness to have uncomfortable conversations with people who intimidate you.
It’s about being comfortable with being uncomfortable. In every situation.
You complain about the lack of opportunities that are given to you. But what about the opportunities that you have to seize?
Those take hard work. And hard work isn’t always so easy to sniff out. It doesn’t come packaged nicely in the gym with instructions on how much weight to lift or how many reps to do.
If you want these opportunities you have to be willing to take on risk and be okay with uncertainty. And you must be willing to do the work that you are not accustomed to.
Once you recognize that many opportunities are disguised as hard work, the world will open up to you and things will almost feel like they are just falling into place. But you have to be willing to open your eyes to different ways of thinking about improvement, and you must be willing to seek out uncomfortable types of hard work.